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Regulatory guides

For: Employers and managers Information seekers

To assist the organisations and entities Comcare regulates, we publish a range of regulatory guides.

Purpose of our regulatory guides

We develop regulatory guides to help organisations and agencies understand the requirements of work health and safety laws.

They provide detail on specific regulatory topics that are not included in the Compliance and Enforcement Policy (PDF, 158.2 KB)

The guides also explain our views on topics such as:

  • the nature of duties and obligations of regulated entities
  • the decision-making process for authorisations and approvals
  • specific compliance tools and how we decide when to use them.

Regulatory guide topics

We welcome your feedback on the topics we cover and the content of our guides. Email your feedback to

Legislative framework

The WHS Act and WHS Regulations are based on the model work health and safety laws that have also been adopted in many other states.


Sections 4-9 of the WHS Act define certain words for the purposes of the WHS Act and WHS Regulations and also provide meanings for other important terms.

Health and safety duties

The core duties required by the WHS Act are the ‘health and safety duties’ detailed in sections 13-34. They include the primary duty of care owed by ‘persons conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU) towards workers and other people.

Inspectors’ functions and powers

Sections 160-162 of WHS Act give functions and powers to inspectors who have been appointed by Comcare.

Inspector assistance and decisions

Inspectors are given specific functions under part 5 of the WHS Act, which relate to the interactions of ‘persons conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU), health and safety representatives (HSR), health and safety committees, work groups and workers.

In certain situations where parties are unable to agree on an issue, part 5 allows them to ask Comcare to appoint an inspector to assist them to resolve the issue or to decide a matter for them.

Compliance tools

Comcare undertakes a range of compliance and enforcement activities under the WHS Act to promote compliance or to deter or respond to non-compliance. These activities may or may not involve the use of compliance tools.

Compliance tools are specific measures that Comcare can use to achieve an outcome in relation to compliance. Some compliance tools are established by specific legislative provisions.

Compliance tools include notices, WHS undertakings and prosecutions.

WHS entry permit holders

Part 7 of the WHS Act provides for WHS entry permit holders to enter workplaces in certain circumstances.


The WHS Regulations impose various duties and obligations. Comcare has the power to exempt persons from compliance with those duties and obligations.

There are three types of exemption.

Claims of legal professional privilege

Comcare and its inspectors are empowered to require the production of documents or information under parts 8 and 9 of the WHS Act.

However legal professional privilege may be claimed over some documents or information that would otherwise be required to be produced. If you intend to resist the production of documents or information on the basis of legal professional privilege, you must prove that the claim of privilege is valid.

Page last reviewed: 19 March 2021

GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 |

Date printed 18 Jul 2024